| NEW YORK
NEW YORK DuPont (DD.N) is nearing a deal to sell its car paint unit to private equity firm Carlyle Group LP (CG.O) as early as this week, three people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, marking the end of an 8-month-long auction.
The deal is likely to be in the region of $4.8 billion, one of the people said, cautioning that the final details were still being worked out. Complexities in negotiating a carve-out of the performance coatings unit delayed an agreement, they added.
DuPont and Carlyle declined to comment.
DuPont, which has never publicly acknowledged it is selling the car paint business, launched an auction for the asset in January. It also attracted final bids last month from Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) and a consortium of KKR & Co LP (KKR.N) and Onex Corp OCX.TO, people familiar with the matter previously told Reuters.
DuPont's performance coatings business primarily sells to Maaco and other auto paint refinishers. Ford Motor Co (F.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N) are also key customers, although selling to so-called original equipment manufacturers is not as lucrative.
Not only would the unit's sale remove the lowest-margin and slowest-growth business from DuPont's portfolio, it would also allow the chemicals manufacturer to cut debt and make an acquisition worth $5 billion to $10 billion in 2013, Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a note to clients earlier this month.
Like many private equity firms, Carlyle specializes in turning businesses around. The Washington, D.C.-based investment firm has been very active of late, committing $1 billion in private equity in the second quarter and announcing deals since then for which it will commit at least $1.6 billion, Carlyle's co-chief executive, William Conway, said on August 8.
Earlier on Wednesday DuPont announced another divestment as Syngenta AG SYNN.VX agreed to buy DuPont's professional products insecticide business for $125 million in cash to expand the Swiss company's range of pest-control products.
(Editing by Dan Grebler)